One of my favorite Easter stories is the one often entitled The Road to Emmaus. If you have never read this story or haven’t recently read it, you might want to. It can be found in Luke 24:13-35. I’ve read or heard it a number of times over the past few months. It’s a most fascinating story – I’m glad that Luke felt God’s tug to include it in his gospel.
It’s the story about two of Jesus’ followers (not part of the Twelve) as they travel from Jerusalem to Emmaus on “that very day” – the day Jesus was resurrected. As they walked the seven-mile trek, they had all kinds of time to talk through the events of the past three days, so they did.
As they walked, Jesus showed up, appearing unbeknownst. Jesus had once said, “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20). That’s literally what he did, though the two disciples didn’t recognize him. As he came alongside them he asked a simple, yet simple but profound question: “So, what were you guys talking about.” They stood there looking sad.
One of them asked Jesus if he was the only person that hadn’t heard what took place in Jerusalem these last few days. Jesus then asked a simpler and even more profound question: “What things?” Love it. Jesus, who experienced it all, asked, “What things?”
It was just like Jesus – not missing a teaching moment, always asking great questions. (I suppose he could have been just messing with them – I certainly would have!) I think as a teacher, Jesus asked questions for a couple reasons: (1) He wanted to discover what they understood, thought, believed, and perceived, and, more importantly, (2) He wanted them to discover what they understood, thought, believed, and perceived.
Mostly, I think he wanted people to pause, think, and ponder.
Think about some of the questions he asked – Do you want to get well? What do you think about John the Baptist? Which of the three was the neighbor to the victim? What do you think (he asked this often)? What do you want me to do for you? Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say? Who do you say that I am? What are you looking for? He seemed to always be asking questions that caused the hearer to pause and maybe ponder for a second or two. Or more.
I remember talking with a High School girl during a grief group session I was facilitating several years ago. She was struggling with how God could have taken her loved one. I asked her the question, “Take or allow?” She was doodling on her folder, paused, looked at me, and said, “I’ve never had anyone ask me that before. I’ll have to think about it.” Ponder. This young gal, with a pretty new faith, came back the next week and said that she was rethinking how she viewed God’s role in her loved one’s death.
Several years ago at a local coffee shop, a stranger, noticing me writing in my journal, asked me how keeping a journal has helped me grow in my faith. (No one had ever asked me that before or, at least, not that point blank.) I thought about it for a second and said, “It makes me ponder.”
It really does. As I spend time alone with God in solitude, I find it’s in the moments that I ponder what I’m reading (and the subsequent questions that seem to arise) that things begin to connect for me. I get to discover what I understand, think, believe, and perceive about things. It’s almost like Jesus is sitting with me asking the questions that make me pause and think – pondering in solitude.
I refer to it as times of pondertude.